I Fell In Love With a Stranger

The other day, I met up with an old colleague in Santa Monica for some midday drinkery. A few beers into our outing, we decided to head across the street to another bar. Before doing so, this blue-eyed, blonde-haired man (Harlem) sat down to my immediate left. I glanced over at him as he sat and our eyes met. Being the awkward introvert that I am, I quickly smiled and averted my gaze.

I didn’t say a word to my colleague about his presence, but I could tell that she noticed him too. I mean, how could you NOT? He was GORGE!

Long story short, I was attempting to tie a floral wreath around my friend’s head (don’t ask!). The struggle was too real. After ten failed attempts, I finally got it to stay! She, quite cleverly, took that as an opportunity to pull my blue-eyed neighbor into our conversation:

Coworker: “She went to Berkeley and can’t even tie this thing on my head!”
Harlem: *giggles*
MeMarry me! (in my head, of course)
Harlem: “I love flowers! Blah blah blah…beautiful…blah blah blah….my favorite is blah blah blah…”

He went on for an eternity about his love for flowers. I found it a bit odd and concerning, but I soon forgave him for the strange obsession. I figured that he’d be able to pick the perfect flowers for our wedding!

Anywho, my coworker soon excused herself to the restroom and there I was, left alone. Just me, my awkwardness and him. He immediately broke through the silence by asking me about my studies at Berkeley. We got to talking and I told him about my time in Cambodia. Then, the most AMAZING thing happened!

He moved his chair closer to me. Whaaaaaaaat?!

We talked. We laughed. We planned out our lives together (Okay, that may have been just me!). Then, my coworker returned from the restroom. Darn! I was kind of hoping that she’d get lost in a closet world, like in The Chronicles of Narnia! But, sadly, that didn’t happen.

She and I started gathering our belongings to head over to the next bar and she decided to invite Harlem to join us. He smirked and said:

Harlem: “Ordinarily, I would have said no, but you girls are really cool. And Cynthia has to finish telling me about Cambodia. So I’ll meet you guys over there!”
MeI love you

At the next bar, I kept checking the entrance door like a mad woman. My coworker said: “Cynthia! Stop. He’s not coming. If he wanted to come, he would have left WITH us.”

I agreed.

I soon headed to the restroom to empty out my bladder. After waiting in front of the girl’s restroom for what seemed like hours, I finally decided to duck into the men’s restroom. I locked the door and twisted the knob to make sure that it was locked. The door opened. I locked it again, (thinking that I twisted the switch the wrong way the first time around). Checked it. The door still opened! Just my luck! This was one of those doors that opened, no matter which way you turned the switch.

So I said “f— it!” and I made a mad dash for the toilet. I pushed with all my might and prayed to the heavens that no one tried to open the door while I was stooping over this toilet! I finished in record time. Washed my hands. Then went for the door. At the same moment that I was opening the door, someone on the outside was also attempting to get in. I pushed. He pulled. The door opened.

It was Harlem.

We locked eyes (again) and immediately started laughing. I mean, there I was coming out of the men’s restroom for goodness sakes (Good thing I only did #1!!!)! I played it cool and told him that I was glad he could make it over. I let him into the restroom and high-tailed it out of there. As I hurried back to share the good news with my coworker, the unthinkable happened!

I fell!

As soon as I realized that I had lost my fight with gravity, I quickly popped back up. My audience of about seven young kids looked up at me, giggled, then one pointed at me and yelled, “Nailed it!”

Mortified, I made my way back to my coworker and filled her in on all of the embarrassment that consumed my life for the past ten minutes. She laughed, but like most people in my life, she understood that this type of stuff happens to me ALL the time!

Okay. Time to wrap things up! Long story short, Harlem and I started back up with our convo. We flirted. Shared a few innocent touches. And just had a really good time. After an hour or so, my coworker decided to head home.

Harlem and I stayed behind and decided to grab a bit to eat. On the way there, he climbed into a tree and watched as I tried to jump as high as I could to touch some random storefront sign. It was complete ridiculousness. I don’t know why he was in the tree or how he got up there, but I loved it. And him (as you’ll recall).

*Contrary to what you may be thinking, the events of this night were not influenced by the use of any type of drug.*

We finally got something to eat and he filled me in on his life. In short, he’s a paramedic “of some sort” and he’s “technically in the Navy” (So many questions, so little time!) He was born in Harlem, NY and now lives in San Diego.

After we finished, he walked me to my car and we exchanged numbers. We said our goodbyes and did the whole stare-at-each-other-as-we-walk-away thing. I got in my car, prepared to reverse, looked back to check for him and he was gone. He just vanished! In the blink of an eye, there was no trace of him.

I don’t know if Harlem and I will ever talk or see each other again, but because of him, I had one EPIC night and I got to fall in love with a complete stranger!

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